Monday, April 21, 2008

Arrogance, Elitism, and Opiates for the Masses

I wrote after the "Race in America" speech that if I voted eventually for Barack Obama that speech would be the major positive - and that is still true. Nothing in all the discussions I have read since has altered my opinions expressed in that post.

His San Francisco fundraiser speech has now assumed the lead for the major reason I wouldn't vote for him. Neither of these are actually what I consider to be "issue oriented" - there is nothing I want the Federal government to "do" about either racism or hopelessness in the United States. Well, except . . .

The president can use the platform of the Presidency to project values to the country as a whole. Since Senator Obama is running more as a candidate of "change" and "unity" - helping us to get over the divisions of the last 20ish years in order to move forward with a common purpose - these two speeches really are "issue" speeches for him. That isn't a bad thing for me since I do not believe the President has a great deal more than moral authority. Even as Chief Executive, the huge Federal bureauacracy doesn't seem to be much under his control. Since I have no idea who he might appoint to run the elements of that Federal machine - I have no way to guage what kind of executive he might be. Well, except . . .

Here's how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government, and when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn't buy it. And when it's delivered by -- it's true that when it's delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter).

But -- so the questions you're most likely to get about me, 'Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What's the concrete thing?' What they wanna hear is -- so, we'll give you talking points about what we're proposing -- close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama's gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we're gonna provide health care for every American. So we'll go down a series of talking points.

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations. -- Senator Barack Obama; April 6, 2008
I have been waiting this long two weeks to say something about this for three reasons:
  1. To let my anger subside
  2. To mesh together some threads it stirred up in my own past and current life
  3. To hear the explanations - pro and con - about why this isn't just c__p
No one succeeded at #3 [it is c__p] - indeed I think it is only partisanship that keep PastorDan at Street Prophets from making Obama the "Wanker of the Day" for this comment; and SP - being a largely Barack Obama Zone - was pretty much a place where you could peacefully hear the crickets chirp after this speech [at least about this speech] - either they really agreed with Obama or they just want it to go away [it won't]. Two quotes just about sum up my attitude about the speech:
"He is saying people are weak, dumb and naive, and they are seeking religion as a way of getting through . . . He didn't help himself." -- quoted by John Hurdle
I’m sorry but I must disagree. Perhaps only liberals “cling” to religion. Most people of faith I know (I’m an atheist) embrace their faith, they welcome it into their lives. It is just plain wrong – in any reality – to say that Middle Class voters are scared little puppies cowering in their economically devastated communities, being swayed by the hypnotic fear mongering of Republicans with regard to guns (no one has to be scared into believing anything when liberals themselves constantly denigrate and mercilessly mock those who exercise their right to bear arms).

And Obama’s contention that Republicans jack up fear of “the other” to get votes presupposes that the Middle Class has no strong feelings about border security – that they are being manipulated by conservatives who use the issue to gin up racist feelings and not because people are passionate about the subject. This isn’t elitist thinking? This isn’t holding people in utter contempt who disagree with you?

Spare me.

The question isn’t whether these issues spill over into the realm of politics. Of course they do. The problem is Obama and much of the left believes people are so ignorant and easily swayed by GOP appeals to their values that the reason they don’t vote Democratic is that they are fooled into voting otherwise. In other words, these bitter, frustrated voters can be had simply by “throwing a flag in their face.”

Not recognizing why this is monumentally wrong is why the Democrats have such a hard time winning elections. The GOP connect(ed)s with voters on an emotional level while the Democrats refuse to engage. It is not by ginning up fear that the GOP succeed(ed)s it is because the party doesn’t dismiss their values as some kind of mental disorder to be cured by “right thinking.” You’re a stupid yahoo if you own a gun. You’re a superstitious moron if you take religion (and its teachings on abortion and gay marriage) seriously. You’re a racist hater if you don’t allow unfettered access to America by illegal aliens.

And the left wonders why people don’t vote for them? --
Rick Moran
and, bonus quotes:
What’s most offensive? The condescension displayed here . . . ? The sheer breadth of the stereotype . . . ? The crude quasi-Marxist reductionism of his analysis, which he first introduced in his speech on race vis-a-vis the root causes of whites’ “resentment” — namely, exploitation by the bourgeoisie in the form of corporations and D.C. lobbyists? Or is it the shocking inclusion of religion, of all things, in the litany of sins he recites? What on earth is that doing there, given His Holiness’s repeated invocations of the virtues of faith on the trail? Note the choice of verb, too. Why not just go the whole nine yards and call it the opiate of the masses? -- Allah
It comes off very badly . . . They are things that I think in a liberal world sound totally normal, and outside of that world I don’t know that he appreciates how it sounds. And it just sounds very elitist, and it sounds like he’s looking down on people. -- Kristen Powers (quoted by Allah)
To quote Top Gun - "that should just about do it for the fly-bys"

That last quote, and PastorDan in his "Rural Voters, Values Voters, And The Bitterness Of The Elites", gives me the perfect lead-in for #2 above - threads from my past and current life.

And that will be in Part 2

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly